Monday, January 26, 2015

First and Last Lines

A year or so ago, I read some advice on writing out the first and last line of every chapter in a list (if this was on your blog, please give yourself a shout out in the comments for me!).

I don't remember all the reasons, but as I'm reading through my NaNo novel, I'm keeping track of these lines in a file within my Scrivener folder and I'm finding some interesting things.
  • only a few of my first lines really stink
  • some of them are even pretty good
  • my last lines are often very short - 1-3 words
  • my characters are pretty sarcastic
  • putting the 1st and last lines together gives a great summary of the chapter's emotion
  • reading the list through gives a great sense of the story - and of the pace (which I always need help with). Much more helpful for editing than I expected
Doing this has helped me see I've grown as a writer too. I'm coming into scenes later and exiting earlier - trusting in the reader more. (Thanks to my fabulous CPs once again!!!)

Have you ever tried this? Any great first or last lines to share?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Keep Calm & Scrivener On!

So, I'm reading through my NaNo draft and finding lots to like...and more than a few things that just don't work. Pretty normal for a 1st draft, I'd say.

I've now realized I've got to switch the order of 2 of the Major Events. This will entail millions (or so it seems) of ripple effect changes throughout the entire story. More or less a complete rewrite while keeping the essence of the story.

Slightly terrifying! Exciting too.

If you've used Scrivener, you know that you can make notes on each file (scenes for me) and notes for the entire document. I use that one to keep track of the Big Idea Changes I need to make -- things like making one character more evasive, make the other crankier, keep the sexual tension up, add description etc.

I also keep a couple of folders that aren't part of the ms. Inside my Outlines folder, I have my rather pathetic attempts to plot. One is a (far too brief) synopsis, another has a chart outlining proposed chapters, another has a bullet list for main ideas of each chapter, and so on. Because I might actually be the world's worst plotter, there are far too many files and I'm about to add at least one more with my newest ideas for rearranging the plot lines. Hoping to find a method that really works for me soon,

Another folder is my To Do Folder with Things to Add, Big Ideas, & Fix This!

Depending on my mood and need, I can keep one of these files open alongside my current chapter. Or I can keep my current chapter in one window and the new version in the other. GREAT way to use the good bits and eliminate the garbage.

Then, I can easily slip the scenes around the MS with a few drags of the mouse. For me, it makes the rewriting process a lot less daunting and the mountain I've got to climb doesn't seem as steep.

Are you a Scrivener fan? Any tips to share? How do you feel about those major rewrites? Any magic wands to turn me into a Plotter Extraordinaire?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy Giveaway!

And Happy New Year too!

I hope 2015 is YOUR year and you find all kinds of wonderful moments to treasure.

To celebrate a fresh start for 2015, over at From the Write Angle we're celebrating with a huge Giveaway. Check out this list!

R.C. Lewis - Signed STITCHING SNOW
MarcyKate Connolly - Signed MONSTROUS (On release date)
Mindy McGinnis - Signed NOT A DROP TO DRINK & IN A HANDFUL OF DUST
Sophie Perinot - Signed SISTER QUEENS & DAY OF FIRE
S.L. Duncan - Signed THE REVELATION OF GABRIEL ADAM
Cat Woods - Signed TALES FROM THE BULLY BOX and WHISPERING MINDS
Jemi Fraser - Kindle editions of SUBMISSION & SURRENDER by Cali McKay and EGGNOG & CANDY CANES by Jean Oram
Matt SinclairWINTER'S REGRET anthology from Elephant's Bookshelf Press
R.S. Mellette - Signed BILLY BOBBLE MAKES A MAGIC WAND
J. Lea Lopez - Signed SORRY'S NOT ENOUGH
Riley RedgateEXTRACTION by Stephanie Diaz

As you can see, many of my talented buddies are already published (or have debuts coming out soon) and the books range from MG to YA to historical fiction to romance. So many great books!

Hurry over and enter - what better way to start the new year than with free books! Good luck!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

I Wish

'Tis the season for wishes! The next few weeks look to be filled with family, love,, and barely controlled chaos (so, pretty much normal for around here :)), and I'm not sure how much I'll be around the bloggy-verse. In case I don't catch up with you, I thought I'd send you my wishes now!

I wish you...

  • a warm and happy home filled with love
  • a friendly face to greet you every day
  • time to relax and enjoy and just 'be'
  • the opportunity to stretch your wings
  • a joyous holiday season
  • that special something you've been secretly craving
  • a healthy, happy, fun, and fulfilling 2015

What's one of your wishes? What's that special something for you?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Wrapping it Up

I'm finishing up my NaNo draft - 64k and counting. I've left myself tons of notes along the way about things to add, things to polish, and things to change.

The last few chapters are waiting for me and I have to plow my way through. While I have an idea what's going to happen (the main characters will live and get their HEA), it's the getting there that's tough. 

Endings aren't easy for me. Tying all those plot lines together isn't my strength - probably because I don't plot in advance. One of my MCs is currently in major trouble and the other is oblivious, but closing in.

The next few scenes need to be full of action and emotion. I think I'm good with the emotional part of it all, but the action sequences are more difficult. By focusing on the emotion of the characters going through the actions, my writing is getting stronger, but it's not there yet. I'll probably end up rewriting these chapters a dozen times. *sigh*

How about you, are you good at wrapping it all up at the end of your stories, or is it a challenge for you, too?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Note to Self

It's a bit early, but I've managed to squeak across that 50k NaNoWriMo finish line! The draft's not done yet, probably still another 20k to go. Hoping to have most of that wrapped up before the chaos of Christmas prep begins so I can let it simmer a bit over the holidays.

When I'm drafting, I don't fine tune as I go. Instead I leave myself notes on how to fix things later.

  • this is all telling
  • cliche alert!
  • this stinks, but the core of the scene is good
  • this isn't the right word
  • do a find search for probably & maybe
  • check to see how many days have passed
  • what colour is his hair??
  • add in some scene setting
  • does the doctor have a last name?
  • good place to add description
  • blech - fix this

Do you leave yourself notes as you go? Or do you have to stop and fix it at the time?

Monday, November 10, 2014

First Draft Frenzy

Thanks so much for all of your kind words in my last post. Dealing with grief is tough, but we're coping. Mostly :)

I'm having a blast with my new NaNo draft. As of October 31st, I didn't have a clue who my characters were or what their story was, but it's flowing!

Writing first drafts is my absolute favourite part of the writing journey. And, as an added bonus, I'm getting better at them. Usually I have a bit more of a foundation to start with. I don't outline, but I generally have a solid idea of who my characters are, what drives them, what's holding them back, and how they need to grow.

I also usually know (in the loosest sense of the word) my ending. Definitely a bonus (for me) of writing romance is I know the end goal before I write a single word. I want my characters to grow enough to be able to trust another person with their heart.

Sounds simple, which is where the internal and external conflicts come into play - and where the fun is to be had!

So, I'm having a fabulous time watching both of my characters work hard to hide their pasts and shield their hearts, knowing it's not going to do them a bit of good in the long run!

What's your favourite thing about the writing stage you're at right now? Are you a first draft fan too? If you're doing NaNo too, I'm jemifraser over there if you want to buddy up!